Shichijuni-kou (72 Seasons) Calendar Listing
初夏 Shoka: "Early Summer"
Season No. 8: 小満, Shouman:
Shouman: the time of year when farmers can hope to see kernals forming in the "ears" of cereal crops such as wheat and barley. This sign allows them to heave a little sigh of relief, hence the term "shou-man," or "small satisfaction."
Climate No. 24: 麦秋至
Mugi Notoki Itaru
(May 31 -June 4)
|Field of Ripened Barley in June Rains (Hikone, Shiga)|
|Barley ready for harvest (Yasu, Shiga)|
It was fun to imagine what that particular field of barley was destined to become. We asked but the farmer wouldn't tell us. Sometimes, it's good to be left hanging. It teaches patience. He did practice his English with me a little bit, and his desire to communicate was somehow enough. I don't need to know everything.
Bird Of The Season: イソヒヨドリ, Isohiyodori, Blue Rock Thrush
|Male Blue Rock Thrush (Source: Wikipedia, a Public Domain Image)|
Male blue rock thrushes are particularly loud this time of the year, as if the rains are putting the pressure on them to hurry up with finding a partner -and competition's fierce. I always see them standing by themselves, spaced yards apart from one another, chirping lonesome and friendless on the same stretch of seawall. Perhaps their loner reputation explains their name solitarius. Despite their tendency towards self-isolation, I'm always rooting for them; they're much too charming to lose out on the race to procreate. For now, their numbers aren't in any danger of extinction. May this continue to be the case for generations to come.
Flower Of The Season: 葵, Aoi, Hollyhock
|A natural hollyhock "fence" edges a parking lot in Miyoshi, Hiroshima.|
The hollyhocks follow
The sun's invisible road." -Matsuo Basho
|Red giant complete with starburst in the center (Sera, Hiroshima).|
Used in family crests and seals as a symbol of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and heralded today in Kyoto's Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival) this overloaded physical impossibility of a flower is a symbol of power and strength. Though some might disagree, more than hydrangeas, the hollyhock (Alcea rocacea) is the quintessential sundial (or clock, if you will) of the rainy season.
Hollyhocks bolt up quicker than lightning right after the last yaezakura cherry trees have finished blooming. By the time the rainy season begins, the flowers have already bloomed half-way up their towering 5-foot stalks. When the rains subside and the sultry, unforgiving heat of late summer kicks in, the blossoms are already on their way out, dropping off limp and spent like deflated balloons released of their air.
As Basho seemed to imply in his haiku, hollyhocks look as if they just don't give a darn about the rain, or anything else for that matter. Running on their own time, they keep right on track and stay focused on a sun they can't see -a perfect example of concentration and dilligence. And of course, this means yet another lesson for me: if I believe that I'm doing all I can in this moment, keeping my eyes locked on my goal (but making definite action in the present towards that goal), good things will come of it, surely.
|Hollyhock being tickled by an inch-long bumble bee (Miyoshi, Hiroshima)|